People protest against plans by BBVA, Spain's country's second-biggest bank, to cut its banking staff in its home market in Madrid, Spain, June 2, 2021. | SUSANA VERA

BBVA has reached an agreement with unions to lay off 2,935 employees in Spain, around 12.6% of its banking workforce in its home market, the bank and Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) union said on Tuesday.

"The adjustment plan is necessary to ensure the competitiveness and sustainability of future employment in the entity given the current context of profound transformation of the financial sector," BBVA said in a statement.

In April, BBVA said it was initially planning to cut 3,798 jobs and close 530 branches, more than a fifth of its offices in Spain, to adapt to a customer shift towards online banking.
On Tuesday, a CCOO spokesman said the lender had also agreed to reduce the number of branches affected to 480, which BBVA confirmed in its statement later on.

CCOO said that some of its demands, such as implementing any cuts through voluntary redundancies, were met. Under the agreement, around 210 employees will also be able to request an incentivised leave.

It will cost around 960 million euros to implement the plan, with the collective redundancy costing 720 million euros and closing the branches costing 240 million euros, BBVA said.

With the plan, BBVA hopes to save up around 250 million euros every year from 2022 onwards, it said.

Last week, BBVA signalled it was open to reducing the number of job cuts to below 3,000, according to CCOO, following a one-day strike by thousands of its employees, in what was the first such work stoppage involving a national bank in 30 years.

As of end-March, the bank had 2,366 branches and around 23,300 in Spain
Spanish banks' staff have recently been holding protests against plans by five lenders to cut around 18,000 jobs.

On Monday, Caixabank, which has bought Bankia to create Spain's biggest domestic lender, and unions decided to prolong their negotiations regarding around 7,600 job cuts.